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Renewed calls for action on dangerous dogs as hospital admissions rise

PUBLISHED: 18:30 11 August 2011

A dog bite.

A dog bite.

Calls have been renewed for further action on dangerous dogs in Norwich after it emerged hospital admissions due to dog bites are on the rise.

In 2010/11, there were 6,120 hospital admissions resulting from dog injuries in England, according to data from the NHS Information Centre.

This is up 5pc on the previous year and represents the most serious injuries requiring a hospital stay, not just those cases seen in A&E.

In the NHS Norfolk area, which does not include Great Yarmouth, there were 84 cases in 2009/10 in which series injuries requiring a hospital stay were sustained as a result of being injured by a dog and 85 the following year. This is almost double of number of admissions due to bites by other mammals, which was 43 in 2009/10 and 44 the year after in Norfolk.

Nationally, around one in six (17pc) of those ending up in hospital was a child under the age of 10 (1,010 admissions in total).

Dog-related injuries accounted for about half of all the 12,410 admissions caused by animals in 2010/11.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright has raised the issue in a parliamentary debate on dangerous dogs, calling on local authorities and the government to take further action.

He said: “I have been troubled for some time by reports from constituents about dog attack incidents. Most of those that have been brought to my attention have been attacks on pets which in many cases led to the loss of loved pets, but it’s quite horrific to hear these latest statistics, whic show the extent of the problem in attacks on people as well.

“I have got concerns, particularly in some parts of the city, and there was a recent high profile incident in which a boy was badly bitten and I have been pressing the city council to look at the evidence being brought to my attention, which is reflected in these statistics as well and shows real action is needed on our streets.”

Mr Wright said two government departments were currently looking at the issue of dangerous dogs and their connections with anti-social behaviour, and he expected them to put forward proposals before the end of the year.

He added: “I think it’s really important to see a meaningful strategy both at a national and local level to ensure people are safe in their own communities and are without fear of attack by some of these dogs.

“In so many attacks cases irresponsible ownership has been at the core of the problems and any strategy we do have must encourage responsible ownership and good practice for looking after dogs and should set clear guidelines for people.”

The figures for Norfolk are much higher than in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Great Yarmouth and Waveney, where there were 42, 45 and 15 hospital admissions respectively due to dog bites in 2009/10 and 40, 54 and 9 respectively for the following year.

More than 360 people signed a petition requestion a dog control order to be introduced in Douro Plae, off Dereham Road, in the West Pottergate area of Norwich earlier this year after a number of pets were left dead or injured after being attacked by dogs.

If put in place, a control order would mean dog-owners would be forced to keep their pets on leads or run the risk of incurring an £80 fine.

The council said at that time it could not justify introducing such an order without a proper evidence base to support it and said it could also unfairly impact on responsible dog owners.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Our statistics show that the summer is a seasonal hotspot for admissions to hospital for injuries caused by dogs, coupled with a 5pc rise overall for such admissions between the latest and previous 12-month period.

“However, the same timeframe also saw an increase in admissions for injuries inflicted by other creatures - from bugs and horses to cows and pigs.

“It is also perhaps surprising to some that a bite or sting from a non-venomous insect can be so severe it can result in admission to hospital - but clearly this was the case for some 3,620 admissions in the 12 months to April 2011.”

Calls for action on dangerous dogs were renewed by Norwich City opposition councillors in the wake of an incident in Goldsmith Street, off Dereham Road, Norwich, in July.

Iain De-Bozie, then nine, suffered serious injuries to his right arm after he was attacked by a dog.

Iain was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital following the attack on Sunday and underwent a two-hour operation to repair the damage to his arm.

Nathan Atkins, 20, of Goldsmith Street, has been charged with failing to control a bulldog in relation to that incident, on Sunday, July 3. The case is due to come before Norwich Magistrates’ Court on July 28.

Atkins appeared via video-link from HMP Norwich on July 29 and will now do so again on Thursday, August 25 for the case to be committed to crown court.

Last year in Norfolk, 40 crimes were recorded by police under the dangerous dogs act. In these cases, 34 were for a dog attacking an adult and five were for a dog attacking a child.

Do you think the city council should do more to deal with dogs which are not on leads? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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